From Tom Schreiner’s foreword to Jarvis Williams’s new book, One New Man: The Cross and Racial Reconciliation in Pauline Theology (B&H)—a new book being praised by Schreiner, Doug Moo, Bruce Ware, Thabiti Anyabwile, Ken Jones, Kenneth Matthews, Russell Moore, David Dockery, and Preston Sprinkle.
You can read the endorsements, table of contents, and second chapter (on “The Reason for Racial Reconciliation”) here.
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I am not denying that we as evangelical Christians may be able to learn some truths about racial reconciliation from those in the secular world. Also, I freely confess that Christians who have preached the gospel have too often been on the wrong side of the issue so that their words and their actions have promoted racism. As Christians who believe the Bible’s teachings, we have many sins to confess with respect to racism. . . .
Certainly, we as evangelical Christians may learn from the world, but I have a complaint as well. Why do we so often think that the world has a better answer to the problem of racial prejudice than we do? Why do we so often follow secular advice “lock, stock, and barrel”? Why do we have the very same multicultural programs with a thin Christian veneer? Why is our diversity training so often virtually indistinguishable from that of the world? I can only conclude that we as evangelical Christians believe that we must look to the world for solutions to racism. I do not have space to argue for this here, but we need to evaluate critically the multicultural and diversity programs that are rife in our culture. In many ways they are contrary to the gospel, and instead of advancing racial reconciliation, they actually foster and encourage racial polarization. We as Christians have a better answer to racial problems—an answer that goes back to Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul, and others who wrote sacred Scripture. In other words, we as Christians believe that the answer to racism is found in the Bible. The answer is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If the answer is found in the gospel, why have Christians so often been on the wrong side of the issue? Too often we do not live by the gospel we proclaim. Cultural norms and sinful patterns crowd out the liberating message that Jesus taught. Even as Christians we easily forget about the good news and live by another norm. But our failure to live consistently by the gospel does not mean that we should abandon the gospel as the answer. Rather, the gospel calls upon us to confess our sins, repent of our evil, and commit ourselves anew to Jesus Christ. Many Christians today are convinced, as they adopt wholesale the multicultural and diversity agenda of our culture, that they represent the vanguard of righteousness. But insofar as they promote a norm other than the gospel, they lead us astray.
How refreshing, then, it is to read a book by an African-American scholar where the New Testament message of reconciliation through Christ is taken seriously as the answer to our racial problems. Jarvis Williams believes that the gospel of Christ speaks to our racial sins and prejudices today, and he shows through careful exegesis what the gospel has to say to our churches and our world. All of us who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters. We are all descendants of Adam (Acts 17:26; Rom 5:12–19), and we have all sinned and fall short of what God requires (Rom 3:23). We are all justified in the same way through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:28–30), and we are reconciled to God and one another through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:14–18). As Jarvis Williams shows, our fundamental task is not to become one, but to live out the oneness that has already been accomplished in Christ. We are brothers and sisters because we belong to Jesus Christ. May we live out this glorious gospel! May the world know that we are Christians by our love for one another (John 13:34–35)! Jarvis Williams’s book does not pretend to provide the answer to all the questions before us, but it provides a rock-solid foundation and starting point.